Thursday, April 20, 2017

Exceptional Ordinary

I have been enjoying daily visits to Jim Grey's photo blog, Down the Road, for quite a while.  Not long ago he began talking about a book he was working on, and in what seems a remarkably short time he had it completed and available for purchase through Blurb Books.  Jim chose, wisely I think, to carry forward the topics and style from his popular blog to the 44-page soft-cover book.  Photographs in color and black-and-white are accompanied by concise and good-humored text.

All of the photos are made with one of Jim's favorite film cameras, a Pentax ME.  The author/photographer talks about the camera's features and why he likes it, but most of the text really focuses on creating a context for the pictures which explains not only how he makes the photographs, but what he finds interesting and compelling in his subjects.  Fans of his blog will not be surprised to find significant sections of the book devoted to Jim's passions for automotive and architectural history, family, friends and pets.

In terms of technique, Jim clearly has a talent for getting at the essence of a subject through the use of selective focus  -- a picture he made of a friend's dog in which only the staring eyes are sharply rendered is one of the best animal shots I have seen in some time.  Throughout the book, and in evidence in the blog postings as well, there is also an approach to portraying life as Jim Grey sees it which seems to be centered on a particularly acute awareness of life's often-fragile and ephemeral nature.  That kind of consciousness coupled to the nearly simultaneous acts of observing and documenting unique to photography  represent the medium's most important potential, and Jim uses it to very good effect in this first book.

A nice on line preview of Jim Grey's book, Exceptional Ordinary; Everyday Photography with the Pentax ME is available at the Blurb Books site.


Jim Grey said...

Thank you very much for your positive and encouraging review!

astrobeck said...

thanks for this post. I had not known of his work and am now following.

Mike said...

I think it is a pretty extraordinary accomplishment to do a daily blog on photography; certainly something I would not attempt.

I have a nice collection of photo books. I enjoy doing book reviews and should probably do some more as it is a helpful way to get a better handle on my own ideas and my own photo work. You can find all my reviews by clicking on the "books" label at the bottom of this post.

Jim Grey said...

On blogging daily. I love to write, probably more than anything else I do. I wanted to be very good at it, and blogging seemed like a wonderful way to keep practicing. I write most days over breakfast, and I frequently spend all Saturday morning at it while I do my laundry. Sometimes the blog is a beast that needs fed but most of the time the ideas flow pretty easily and I have two weeks of posts queued up ready to fire.